Three new Special Research Programmes and extension of six Doctoral Programmes

The FWF Board approved EUR 43.8 million in project funding at its 71st meeting, held from 26 to 28 November 2018. With the total volume of applications amounting to EUR 152.2 million, the approval rate came to 28.8 per cent. The funding will go towards supporting 157 outstanding projects. In addition, the Board approved a budget of EUR 13.3 million for three new Special Research Programmes and decided to provide EUR 19 million for the extension of six Doctoral Programmes.

Three new Special Research Programmes 

The FWF Board approved funding of EUR 13.3 million for three new Special Research Programmes (see below for details). The programmes enable world-class international research collaboration on innovative research topics. The topics of the three new projects are immune disorders (Medical University of Vienna), fat and energy metabolism (Medical University of Graz) and quantum technology developments (University of Vienna). Total funding for the FWF’s 48 Special Research Programmes will amount to EUR 366 million by 2019. 

Extension of six Doctoral Programmes

Additionally, EUR 19 million will be spent to extend six of the currently 41 Doctoral Programmes. The research topics (and lead institutions) are: protein research (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), population genetics (University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna), cardiovascular diseases (Medical University of Graz), molecular pharmacology (University of Vienna), psychology (Paris Lodron University of Salzburg) and discrete mathematics (Graz University of Technology). For more detailed information on the projects, see below.

The newly approved funds will cover training costs for nearly 70 doctoral candidates. Doctoral Programmes are a key funding tool to advance and safeguard the quality of young researchers’ training at Austrian universities. However, no new projects have been launched under this funding scheme since 2017; it has been replaced by “doc.funds”, the FWF’s new funding instrument for structured PhD training. Previously approved Doctoral Programmes may be extended, subject to an application being submitted and an interim assessment.   

Funding for standalone projects, mobility, career and arts-based research

The biggest share of the approved funding goes to standalone projects, in line with FWF’s well-established bottom-up funding approach. In all, application for project funds (including clinical research) amounted to EUR 82.8 million, of which about EUR 25.2 million were approved, corresponding to an approval rate of 30.4 per cent. Additionally, the FWF Board approved 28 grant applications under the Schrödinger and Meitner mobility programmes, 11 projects under the PEEK Programme for the promotion of arts-based research and 15 applications under the Richter Programme for highly-qualified women researchers.

The three new Special Research Programmes in detail
(in alphabetical order)

F 70 Histone Deacetylases as Regulators of T-cell-mediated Immunity

The research network’s goal is to develop a profound understanding of the manifold functions of histone deacetylases (HDAC enzymes) as regulators of T helper cells and to characterise the specific functions of individual enzymes belonging to this large family of proteins, with a view to the use of specific HDAC inhibitors in fighting immune diseases.

Spokesperson: Wilfried Ellmeier, Medical University of Vienna
Partner institutions: CeMM – Center for Molecular Medicine, Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, University of Vienna

F-71 Quantum Information Systems Beyond Classical Capabilities

The research programme “BeyondC” builds on a broad knowledge base drawn from many different experiments and combining several theoretical and experimental approaches. On the theoretical side, the project aims to identify applications and methods that go beyond the existing capabilities of traditional computer systems; the experimental side focuses on new developments to enhance the programmability, quality and quantity of quantum platforms.

Spokesperson: Philip Walther, University of Vienna
Partner institutions: Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Max Planck Society, Austrian Academy of Sciences, University of Innsbruck

F-73 Lipid Hydrolysis: Cellular Lipid Degradation Pathways

The research project investigates the functions of lipid hydrolases, enzymes that are known to play a key role in cell growth and cell proliferation, cellular signal transmission and energy metabolism. Given the essential functions of these enzymes in all living beings, disruptions in the functioning of lipid hydrolases are a cause of many prevalent diseases. This Special Research Programme aims to generate a deeper understanding of the structure, functions and physiological significance of lipid hydrolases in order to explore disease mechanisms and develop new and innovative treatment strategies.

Spokesperson: Dagmar Kratky, Medical University of Graz
Partner institutions: Medical University of Vienna, Graz University of Technology, University of Graz

The six extended Doctoral Programmes in detail
(in alphabetical order)

W 1232 Molecular Drug Targets – MolTag

Spokesperson: Steffen Hering, from 2019 onwards: Gerhard F. Ecker, University of Vienna
Partner institutions: Medical University of Vienna, Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Project website: Molecular Drug Targets - MolTag

W 1226 Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disease (MCD)

Spokesperson: Gerald Höfler, Medical University of Graz
Partner institutions: University of Graz, Graz University of Technology
Project website: Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disease

W 1224 - Biomolecular Technology of Proteins – BioToP

Spokesperson: Christian Obinger, from 2019 onwards: Chris Oostenbrink, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Project website: BioToP

W 1233 Imaging the Mind: consciousness, higher mental and social processes

Spokesperson: Manuel Schabus, Paris Lodron University of Salzburg
Partner institutions: Paracelsus Medical University (PMU), Salzburg
Project website: Imaging the Mind

W 1225 Population Genetics – PopGen

Spokesperson: Christian Schlötterer, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
Partner institutions: University of Vienna, Gregor Mendel Institute
Project website: Population Genetics

W 1230 Discrete Mathematics

Spokesperson: Wolfgang Woess, Graz University of Technology
Partner institutions: University of Graz, Montanuniversität Leoben
Project website: Discrete Mathematics

Additional data and statistics

FWF is committed to excellence in science, internationality and fairness, as well as maximum transparency. We publish all approved research projects on our website (menu item “Project Finder”): In addition, statistics are provided for each Board meeting, which can be found at:

The FWF Board

The FWF Board is composed of the members of the Executive Board and expert reporters. The term of office of the current Board runs until October 2020. The FWF Board’s main task is to decide on funding for basic research projects. For information about the members of the FWF Board, go to:

The Austrian Science Fund FWF

The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is Austria’s central funding organisation for basic research. Applying international quality benchmarks, FWF provides funding for outstanding research projects and excellent researchers who work to generate, broaden and deepen scientific knowledge.


Marc Seumenicht
Head of Public Relations and Science Communication

Back to list view